1941 Pure Oil Sign

It was a cold January morning and I decided to take a drive on one of our Carolina country roads. The leaves had fallen from most of the trees except for the lingering oaks leaves and those from a few other hardwoods. The hopeful and life reminding evergreens were among the silver branches of the leafless sculpture like wonders of nature.

The not so distant mountains were colored with the beauty of winter blue-gray. As my journey progressed to my left, a cut field where corn grows awaits a spring planting. Winter pastures with resting cattle would often appear with the ever-turning country roads.

I think about the farmer and the cattle in cold weather; both have extra work. A cow needs to eat more roughage during colder weather; this will give her more calories for heat energy. If she doesn’t have enough roughage, she will lose weight as her system robs body fat to create energy for warmth. Extra grass hay or even straw can keep her warm since the fermentation and breakdown of cellulose create heat energy.

The work of the farmer is never done and the wonderment of the four seasons in the Carolinas the diversity of work is consistent. I recall a visit with a new farmer. I ask what was the biggest change in his life after going from a corporate job to life on the farm. He thought for a moment and then smiled as he said, “Well, I pray a lot more than I use too.” He went on to say that he just never knew what was going to happen. While some things are predictable when you use best practices, you just never know about the weather. Sometimes it all works out and sometimes not so much.

When I arrived at the Country Café, known as Alvin’s there was a stool open at the counter. I recognized a good number of the people who had stopped in for breakfast. Many were regulars, and most were involved in farming or related to someone who either raises cattle or chickens. Hardworking folks who enjoy a good country breakfast and that’s what I ordered as well -- eggs soft scrambled, bacon, tomatoes and a biscuit with gravy. I can’t eat that way every day, but when I have a country breakfast, I like for it to be authentic.

The conversations were easy. There was, however, talks of a fellow who was making a change from farming to real estate, because the farming profits were just not enough. There were a few opinions in the room about the subject, but for the most part, everyone wished him well.

Conversations with Alvin are always colorful and enjoyable, something in the conversation seems to always remind him of a scene from a movie, a bit of a film déjà vu, and then it brings on a good laugh. It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Alvin is like the rest of us; the passing years are showing, however, his laughter and let’s just get through the day attitude makes life more enjoyable. When I visit, I notice that Alvin ask about the family members of customers and when people are at the register paying, he always says Thank You and tells them that he appreciates them.

As I was driving away, I noticed an old sign for PURE Oil which was founded in 1914 and underwent many changes over the years. In 1993 Pure Oil Cooperative was established and is now based in Rock Hill.

I had driven past the sign many times over the years, however, on this day it reminded me that we do have change over time, but there is something special about country folks. They are smart, compassionate, hardworking, diverse and Pure.

Carl White is the executive producer and host of the award winning syndicated TV show “Carl White’s Life In the Carolinas.” The weekly show is in its seventh year of syndication and can be seen in the Greenville, Spartanburg viewing market on WLOS ABC 5 a.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays at WMYA My 40. Visit www.lifeinthecarolinas.com, email White at Carl@lifeinthecarolinas.com.